On Saturday 16th May, the Museum held a children’s day of “Medieval Mayhem” with a total of 260 visitors in the 4 hour open period. All who visited were hugely enthusiastic about the most enjoyable day. Volunteers, dressed in medieval costume, told stories, made swords, taught medieval dancing, offered samples of medieval food.
The day was also the launch day for the new children’s club, Elgin Museum Young Marvels. 25 new members were signed up on the day and lots of application forms were taken away to fill in at home. Details of the club can be found in the membership pages of the website.
Dr Douglas G. Lockhart made further use of the Elgin Trades papers which were donated to the Museum when the Trades wound up. He gave us a most interesting talk in 2014 about some of the planned villages in north-east Scotland. His recent work on the land surveyors of Moray is presented as an article in the magazine of the Scottish Local History Forum (Issue 91 – Spring-Summer 2015), and Douglas has given a copy to the Museum Library. It is full of useful leads to local estate and town plans, and two of the illustrations are of the vignettes on Thomas Hutcheon’s Plan of Burgh of Elgin, 1855. I recommend the article as a good read.
Geology and palaeontology
Dr Sue Beardmore After 12 months of specimen and box, checking, the work in the West Store is almost complete. The fossils comprising the Recognised Collection have all been examined, listed in a new database and placed in protective material, either small cardboard trays or acid free paper. Although specimens were returned to the same grey plastic boxes they were stored in beforehand, they are now re-organised so that each box contains like-specimens. Boxes are also colour coded based on age (Middle Devonian, Upper Devonian, Permian, Triassic), with further divisions based on source locality and then type of fossil; other categories have been established for fish from unknown localities, invertebrates and plants. Most numerous by far are the fish fossils collected from places like Tynet Burn, Dipple Brae and Lethen Bar, followed by reptiles of either Permian or Triassic age from Findrassie, Spynie and Lossiemouth, forming, in short, a high diversity of vertebrate animals from only a handful of sources. All of the boxes are now accessible with stacks of no more than two high as opposed to the 12 observed at the start of the project. A final improvement, with the help of Tomas Christie and Graham Robertson, has been the moving of a stack of shelves in to an alcove, greatly improving access to an otherwise unusable stack and allowing the examination of the last few fossiliferous blocks.
The completion of work in the West Store was marked by the very successful ‘Moray Geology: Past, Present, Future’ conference. Financially, the project has gained considerable support with awards, to date, from the Geologists’ Association (Curry Fund), Palaeontological Association (meeting support) and Museums Galleries Scotland (Recognition Fund). Our final number of attendees was almost 100 from all over the UK – our attendee from Berlin got caught in a Lufthansa strike! The event, and therefore the Museum, will be publicised in a proceedings booklet, reports to the above mentioned organisations. Several further related articles have been proposed for the geo-conservation magazine ‘Earth Heritage’, geology magazine ‘Deposits’ and Palaeontological Association Newsletter. These follow a recently published article in the ‘History Scotland’ magazine describing the importance of one particular fossil of Stagonolepis robertsoni housed in Elgin Museum, albeit with a slight geographical error on the editor’s part. Elgin is not in Midlothian!
After the publications and reports have been completed my contract at Elgin will be finished. I hope to remain in the area until the end of May to see any local sites I have not yet visited. Beyond this I have no firm plans but believe a holiday is in order, perhaps to America for more fossil excavations in the deserts of southern Utah or somewhere quieter to finish up various publications still awaiting my attention. In any case, I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for their help during my stay.
Dandaleith Pictish Stone
I am delighted to be able to announce that Elgin Museum has been allocated a rare treasure, the Dandaleith Stone, a Class I Pictish Stone which was uncovered by a farmer in a field at Dandaleith, near Craigellachie.
The Class I Pictish symbol stone was found in May 2013 during ploughing at Dandaleith Farm, near Craigellachie. The stone, a solid pink granite boulder, measures 0.5 x 1.68 x 0.36m and weighs c.670kg. It has incised decoration on two adjoining faces; the other two faces show no obvious signs of carving. Face 1 is incised with a large crescent, with crescent and V-rod below. Face 2 is incised with a mirror case symbol, with notch rectangle and Z-rod below. The stone may be unique in having two pairs of symbols carved on the same orientation on two adjoining faces. The stone has been conserved before going on display at the Museum. Due to delays in organisation of funding, it is doubtful that it will go on show until after the upcoming seasonal opening.
The stone will be a wonderful addition to our existing collection of carved stone and the stone will be got into place as soon as we have overcome the problem of raising necessary funding and solving the logistical problems of transporting it to Elgin and getting it in situ in the Museum.
We are delighted that the Museum continues to be a useful resource for many students and researchers. It is good that the collection is able to be used to help with research on Scotland and its history.
Chris Stewart-Moffitt , Masters student from Bute, studying our Neolithic stone balls for his dissertation
Dr Keith Bland, entomologist from National Museums Scotland with Martin Cook, Moray and Nairn Bird Recorder and Elgin Museum volunteer, curating, cataloguing and rationalising our entomology collection.